Austin: How Vettel can win a third title

Austin: How Vettel can win a third title

14 November 2012 – Most of us expect Brazil to crown the F1 World Champion for the first time since 2009, but Texas could storm back onto the scene with a title-clinching moment for Sebastian Vettel. If he wins Sunday’s United States Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso fifth or lower, the crown heads to Heppenheim for a third successive year…

Red Bull has already failed to clinch the constructors’ title at the first possible point, in Abu Dhabi two weekends ago. Having said that, it was just about the only thing Red Bull have failed to do lately. The chances are now extremely low that they will not wrap up that honour this weekend, which in my opinion should be viewed as a major displeasure for McLaren; this really was their finest chance to take the spoils for the first time since 1998. For one reason or another, they’ve blown it.

Two to go: Vettel VS Alonso
The drivers’ battle is less clear cut, but facts are facts. One fact is that only Vettel or Alonso can now win this championship. That also means that whoever wins becomes a triple Formula 1 World Champion. Another is, if it is to be Alonso, Brazil is the only place where it can happen for him – just as it did back in 2005 and 2006. On the contrary, Vettel would have collected his titles in a trio of very different countries.

Vettel has a ten-point advantage after his equally superlative drive of Abu Dhabi. Many argue it was only because of the Safety Cars. Yes, they certainly helped, but let us not forget that he was again at the back of the field at the first restart. So really the second Safety Car was the big help and the first was effectively null and void. As for Alonso, just how many times will that man leave us astounded this season? He has to be my driver of the year, but the Red Bull RB8 is dominant when it comes to the car.

Don’t be fooled by the ten-point margin. You score that amount for a fifth place finish, so that translates to just two or four points under the previous two scoring systems which were replaced after the 2002 and 2009 campaigns. There’s nothing in it. To remind you, the current system is: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
With that in mind, here is how Vettel can claim Germany’s tenth F1 title in Texas:
- By winning the race with Alonso fifth or lower
- By finishing second with Alonso ninth or lower
- By finishing third with Alonso 11th or lower
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, to retain even the slightest of chances heading to Brazil, Alonso must score a point if Vettel is to finish third in America - and he must finish eighth if Vettel is to come home second. If Vettel wins the race, which one would imagine is quite possible, then Alonso has to be fourth or better to keep his chances alive – and, even then, things would still be extremely difficult a week later.

For the reasons explained above, it is my personal belief that this title really is now Vettel’s to lose. Furthermore, I have said all season long that the rest of the pack have been on borrowed time while Red Bull made up for the loss of the exhaust-blown diffuser which allowed Vettel to dominate last year. McLaren have made too many mistakes and suffered from unreliability. Mercedes steered in the wrong direction with Super DRS and had an even greater lack of reliability. Lotus threatened mid-season but, ultimately, their ‘device’ proved too sensitive to make the most of at all circuits. As for Ferrari…well, the honest truth is that – although Alonso has driven better than ever, and indeed better than anybody for many years – the car was, quite simply, never quick enough. It certainly looked promising over the European summer but, with the glorious benefit of hindsight, his British and German pole positions only came because of adverse weather conditions.

All is not lost for Alonso, though. Anything really can still happen – just look at the final moments of 1964, 1986, 2007 and 2008 to name just four. Rain could affect proceedings (especially in Brazil), Vettel could lose a front wing up against a back-marker or perhaps Red Bull will fumble a pit-stop. These things might not happen too often, but they do happen and for those reasons Alonso must be in position to take advantage. If these things do not occur and the weather remains dry, you should probably expect Vettel pole positions and two clean drives to victory. The Ferrari may only qualify fifth, sixth or seventh and that always leaves a driver in the danger zone at the start…you don’t need to be Einstein to work that one out and just look at what happened in Japan. On top of this, Red Bull was testing in Abu Dhabi last week whereas Ferrari elected to have their Young Driver run earlier in the year; you would therefore expect the pace deficit to be even bigger, if the updates work as planned.

So, in short, we can’t predict exactly how Vettel might win his third World Championship but – taking all things into account – the odds are certainly in his favour. At the start of 2012 I predicted that Lewis Hamilton would be the only man who could beat Sebastian Vettel this season. Hands up – I got that wrong. But what was right is the fact that Vettel, Adrian Newey and Red Bull have by far the best handle on the current set of Technical Regulations. It will be difficult for Alonso…

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The facts: Circuit of the Americas
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Laps 56

Direction Anti-clockwise

Corners 20

Length 5.516 km / 3.427 mi

Local start time 1pm (GMT -6)

Slick Pirelli tyre compounds
Hard (silver markings) & Medium (white markings)

DRS zone
Back straight, between Turns 11 and 12
- Activation to be approximately 650 metres before Turn 12

FIA driver steward
Emerson Fittipaldi
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Gregory Haines
GPUpdate.net Editor

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Tuesday 25 April 2017

  2. Lorenzo: Front tyre graining hid gains 11:12

    Lorenzo: Front tyre graining hid gains

    Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo is adamant that he made another "step forward" at the Grand Prix of the Americas, pinning his late slump…

    MotoGP
  3. Newgarden hails 'fluid' Penske integration 09:53

    Newgarden hails 'fluid' Penske integration

    Josef Newgarden has praised Penske for its efforts to help him integrate over the off-season, after he claimed his first victory…

    Indy
  4. Video: Alonso's Alabama IndyCar visit 09:03

    Video: Alonso's Alabama IndyCar visit

    Follow Fernando Alonso as he tours the IndyCar paddock at the Barber Motorsports Park.

    F1
  5. Alonso targets two-car McLaren finish 07:32

    Alonso targets two-car McLaren finish

    Fernando Alonso hopes that McLaren-Honda will be able to record a two-car finish at this weekend's Russian Grand Prix, after a…

    F1
  6. Video of the Day: Kvyat 360° Sochi lap 05:36

    Video of the Day: Kvyat 360° Sochi lap

    Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat takes you on a virtual 360° lap of Sochi Autodrom ahead of the Russian GP.

    F1
  7. Monday 24 April 2017

  8. 17:02

    Follow GPUpdate on Instagram in 2017!

    F1
  9. Video: Alonso press conference at Barber 16:04

    Video: Alonso press conference at Barber

    Watch as Fernando Alonso fields questions about his upcoming attempt at the Indianapolis 500.

    F1
  10. In photos: Alonso visits IndyCar paddock 12:35

    In photos: Alonso visits IndyCar paddock

    Fernando Alonso attended last weekend's Grand Prix of Alabama as part of his preparations for an assault on the Indianapolis 500…

    F1
  11. Video: Performing a perfect FE pit-stop 12:02

    Video: Performing a perfect FE pit-stop

    Venturi driver Maro Engel talks through the key elements to pull off a perfect Formula E pit-stop.

    FE
  12. Viñales vows to return 'stronger' after crash 11:12

    Viñales vows to return 'stronger' after crash

    Maverick Viñales says he will quickly put his crash at the Grand Prix of the Americas to the back of his mind and return…

    MotoGP
  13. Venturi calls up Dillmann for Paris ePrix 10:20

    Venturi calls up Dillmann for Paris ePrix

    Tom Dillmann will make his Formula E debut with Venturi in next month's Paris ePrix. Dillmann, who won the Formula V8 3.5…

    FE
  14. Rossi's 2017 title lead 'a great surprise' 10:02

    Rossi's 2017 title lead 'a great surprise'

    Valentino Rossi says it comes as "a great surprise" to himself and Yamaha that he leads the MotoGP title race after the first…

    MotoGP
  15. Video: IndyCar GP of Alabama highlights 09:32

    Video: IndyCar GP of Alabama highlights

    Watch highlights of Sunday's IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park.

    Indy
  16. Márquez 'back' in title race with Austin win 09:16

    Márquez 'back' in title race with Austin win

    Repsol Honda rider Marc Márquez says he is "back in the championship" fight after his victory at the Grand Prix of the Americas…

    MotoGP
  17. Video of the Day: Prema's 'Guess the song' 05:24

    Video of the Day: Prema's 'Guess the song'

    Prema Formula 2 drivers Charles Leclerc and Antonio Fuoco, along with Formula 4 pair Juri Vips and Juan Manuel Correa, challenge…

    F2
  18. 03:10

    MotoGP standings after GP of the Americas

    MotoGP
  19. Sunday 23 April 2017

  20. 22:50

    Latest IndyCar photos: Sunday at Barber

    Indy
  21. Newgarden wins after Power's puncture 22:48

    Newgarden wins after Power's puncture

    Josef Newgarden won for the first time as a Penske driver, holding off Scott Dixon at the Grand Prix of Alabama after race…

    Indy
  22. 21:10

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Austin

    MotoGP
  23. 21:07

    In full: GP of the Americas race results

    MotoGP
  24. Márquez takes fifth straight Austin victory 20:53

    Márquez takes fifth straight Austin victory

    Reigning World Champion Marc Márquez preserved his perfect record at the Circuit of the Americas as he claimed victory, while…

    MotoGP
  25. 19:00

    Starting grid for the GP of the Americas

    MotoGP
  26. Video: Super Formula Suzuka highlights 13:59

    Video: Super Formula Suzuka highlights

    Watch race highlights from Sunday's opening round of the 2017 Super Formula season at Suzuka.

    SF
  27. Nakajima wins race, Gasly top rookie 13:23

    Nakajima wins race, Gasly top rookie

    Former Formula 1 driver Kazuki Nakajima triumphed at the opening Super Formula round of the season at Suzuka as Red Bull reserve…

    SF
  28. Lorenzo pleased to confirm 'good feeling' 13:06

    Lorenzo pleased to confirm 'good feeling'

    Jorge Lorenzo says he was lifted by confirming the "good feeling" he developed at the preceding round in Argentina, as he…

    MotoGP
  29. Video: GP of Alabama qualifying highlights 10:56

    Video: GP of Alabama qualifying highlights

    Watch highlights from Saturday's track action for the Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park.

    Indy
  30. Márquez 'didn't expect' Austin pole position 09:24

    Márquez 'didn't expect' Austin pole position

    Marc Márquez says he "didn't expect" to claim pole position for the Grand Prix of the Americas, having struggled across the…

    MotoGP
  31. Video of the Day: Verstappen photobombs fans 05:34

    Video of the Day: Verstappen photobombs fans

    Red Bull Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen surprises customers at a supermarket in his native Netherlands...

    F1
  32. Saturday 22 April 2017

  33. 23:16

    Latest IndyCar photos: Saturday at Barber

    Indy
  34. Power leads Penske trio in Barber qualifying 23:12

    Power leads Penske trio in Barber qualifying

    Will Power led a Penske/Chevy 1–2–3 in qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday, earning the 46th pole of his…

    Indy
  35. 21:34

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Austin

    MotoGP
  36. Injured Rins to fly home for wrist surgery 21:33

    Injured Rins to fly home for wrist surgery

    Suzuki rider Álex Rins will undergo surgery in his native Spain, after fracturing his left wrist, with no time frame yet placed…

    MotoGP
  37. Márquez beats Viñales in qualifying thriller 21:00

    Márquez beats Viñales in qualifying thriller

    Reigning World Champion Marc Márquez maintained his unbeaten record at the Circuit of the Americas after prevailing in a…

    MotoGP
  38. Avintia continues with Ducati for 2018 20:14

    Avintia continues with Ducati for 2018

    Avintia has renewed its contract as a customer Ducati squad, with both of its riders set to use the Italian manufacturer's 2017…

    MotoGP
  39. Viñales heads crash-filled COTA FP3 17:14

    Viñales heads crash-filled COTA FP3

    Championship leader Maverick Viñales returned to the top of the leaderboard for Yamaha during a crash-strewn third practice…

    MotoGP
  40. Steiner: 'Big three' teams will remain clear 14:46

    Steiner: 'Big three' teams will remain clear

    Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner says he expects the leading three teams – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – to remain…

    F1
  41. Video: Onboard with Hunter-Reay at Barber 12:24

    Video: Onboard with Hunter-Reay at Barber

    Ride onboard with Andretti driver Ryan Hunter-Reay ahead of this weekend's Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park

    Indy
  42. Ricciardo to conduct Budapest demo run 10:28

    Ricciardo to conduct Budapest demo run

    Daniel Ricciardo will demonstrate Red Bull Formula 1 machinery during an event in Hungary's capital, Budapest, next…

    F1
  43. Abraham fractures ankle in Bautista clash 08:28

    Abraham fractures ankle in Bautista clash

    Aspar rider Karel Abraham has sustained a fractured right ankle following a collision with team-mate Álvaro Bautista during…

    MotoGP
  44. Video of the Day: 2017 strategy so far... 05:36

    Video of the Day: 2017 strategy so far...

    3 races down, 17 to go. Using Mercedes' 'Pure Pit Wall', Chief Strategist James Vowles talks about tyre degradation, overtakes…

    F1
more news